Monday, October 05, 2009

Wakey-Wakey!: Have you noticed sometimes when you're watching the telly the DVD they're playing the programme from 'sticks' and the picture freezes on the screen? It didn't happen with the old VHS tapes, did it? No, they just stretched, snapped, or the quality became worse; but they rarely stopped the show.
But one can imagine somewhere at Sky Central, a crowd of people sitting around their own individual TV master-screens, one for each channel, who are paid to make sure this doesn't happen. It must be very boring, or perhaps not, depending on the programme? But obviously some of them must fall asleep, or be outside having a fag break from time to time when they do 'stick.'
Probably because it's my weekday early evening pleasure, but I have noticed that the 'X-Files' gets its fair share of these 'sticks,' and by the time someone at Sky Central has noticed it and they have given the person who's supposed to be watching it a prod to rouse them from slumber, or called him or her in from their fag break and they run in and bash the machine to get it 'un-stuck,' we have missed an important part of the plot.
And if you think a prod, a call or a bash are uncivilised, well, no they aren't, so read on.
Many years ago in the early 1970's when I was courting Mrs. B and she was a Miss, I would often drive her during the Winter months to the Tivoli Theatre in nearby Wimborne for 'The Sunday Horror Double Bill.' This would generally be a Hammer Horror film, plus a lesser-known and usually crap B-movie, but she likes those anyway, and now and again the main feature would be something like 'Witchfinder General,' or Oliver Reed in 'The Devils;' and we would usually sit upstairs in those double seats which were specifically designed for courting couples and / or young lovers.
You're supposed to say "Aahhhhh, isn't that sweet," there, by the way.
In those days there was no DVD to 'stick,' but there was a similar problem which we had to endure on the odd occasion, when the quite brittle celluloid film would break. It would just 'snap' as it went through the projector mechanism, but unlike the 'stuck' frozen-framed picture we get on our TV today, the cinema screen just went white from the light of the projector bulb.
Our world was also at that point in our social history when it was 'normal' to smoke in the cinema, and anywhere else come to that, rather than the crime / bordering upon high treason it has become today. And the local rocker's / biker's / greaser's who also enjoyed "a good-old slash-'em and bash-'em" film would be upstairs with their leather-clad and mini-skirted biker chicks, and they would flick their fag ends and sail them over the balcony into the downstairs arena, whilst jeering loudly as a roaring vocalisation of their displeasure at this temporary halt in the evening's entertainment.
Barbaric as this may sound, 'The Sunday Horror Double Bill' or whatever they called it was minimally attended, and most of the patronage watched the film from upstairs anyway, so no harm was done. Of course, the cinema projectionist, who wouldn't have been asleep or outside on a fag break, would be furiously repairing the film to enable the show to continue; and it was all part of a Sunday evening's entertainment in rural Wimborne town.